Unbeaten St Ives take derby spoils to go top of the table
Pirates Amateurs 11, St Ives 24
CEIRON Thomas was the star of the show with 14 points for St Ives as they beat the Pirates Amateurs in a full-blooded local derby at the Mennaye Field, writes Nigel Walrond.
The 29-year-old Welshman enjoyed his return to the ground where he played for the Cornish Pirates in the Championship last season.
His display helped St Ives move to the top of the Cornwall and Devon League table, as leaders Teignmouth were involved in cup action, and the Cornishmen now boast a two-point lead, but having played a game more than their rivals.
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The Hakes still remain unbeaten after 15 matches as they head into a home clash against relegation-haunted Plymouth Barbarians at Alexandra Road on Saturday (2.15pm), while the Amateurs will look to bounce back at Teignmouth.
St Ives head coach Joff Rowe said: "I am pleased with the win and really happy to maintain our unbeaten record.
"The next half of the season will be as difficult as the game was last Saturday.
"All credit to the Pirates Amateurs, who really pushed us right until the last minute.
"We have injuries and players playing for the Exeter Chiefs Academy who would have strengthened our performance, but credit must go to those who played.
"Sam Heath deserves congratulations for his attitude and commitment. He took a lot of stick, against his old club, but was rewarded with my man of the match award."
St Ives' defence was fully tested in the opening 10 minutes but stood firm against repeated attacks from the Amateurs, although the hosts eventually got a breakthrough with a penalty by fly half Rhys Brownfield.
St Ives were then reduced to 14 men when centre Ian Veal was shown a yellow card, but Pirates failed to capitalise, and it was the Hakes who scored next with a Thomas penalty to tie the scores, and then another to make it 6-3.
Brownfield struck again with a penalty after 31 minutes to level it at 6-6, but St Ives almost snatched back the lead just before the break when Heath made an excellent break, only to be tackled just short of the try line.
The second half began as fiercely competitive as the first half had ended, and within a few minutes, Pirates had lost replacement Jamie Barrett to the sin-bin.
Thomas missed a difficult penalty chance, before tempers flared again, and this time Hakes lock Ryan Trudgeon was given a 10-minute rest.
Thomas slotted a superbly executed drop goal after 55 minutes to make it 9-3 to St Ives, but Pirates began to make their extra man tell, and former St Ives player Ashley Weston, outstanding at full back, popped up wide on the left to score a try in the corner to make it 11-9 to the Amateurs with 20 minutes remaining.
However, with 15 players back on the pitch, St Ives enjoyed a fine last quarter.
Thomas pushed the home side back with a series of accurately placed kicks, while his cracking touchline penalty on 63 minutes edged them 12-11 ahead.
Then, five minutes later, Thomas kicked another penalty to the corner, and prop Brett Rouncefield finished off the catch-and-drive move for his first try of the season to make it 17-6.
Pirates responded well, but were kept out by some good defence, and after another penalty was kicked to the corner by Thomas, a five-metre scrum soon after saw Pirates infringe and the referee award a penalty try, which Thomas converted to complete the scoring.
Amateurs chairman Paul Graves admitted that Thomas had been the main difference between the two teams.
He said: "I felt we deserved at least a bonus point, we were very pleased with the performance of the team, who played with a lot of heart.
"The scoreline flattered St Ives, but with them having a player like Ceiron Thomas in their side, his quality was always likely to have a big impact on the game, and so it proved.
"His kicking both at goal and out of hand was superb and if anything, it was a lesson for some of our younger players in game management."
Saturday's match was preceded by a minute's silence in memory of Caroline Barrett, grandmother of Amateurs player Jamie Barrett and a former member of the Pirates ladies' committee, who died on Friday.